welcome and enjoy!

Hi and welcome to my blog about comics from other people’s childhood! It is dedicated primarily to British humour comics of the 60s and 70s. The reason they are not from my childhood is simply because I didn’t live in the UK back then (nor do I live there now). I knew next to nothing about them until fairly recently but since then I’ve developed a strong liking for the medium and amassed a large collection, including a number of complete or near complete sets. My intention is to use this blog as a channel for sharing my humble knowledge about different titles, favourite characters and creators as I slowly research my collection.

QUICK TIP: this blog is a sequence of posts covering one particular comic at a time. The sequence follows a certain logic, so for maximum results it is recommended that the blog is read from the oldest post up.

Copyright of all images and quotations used here is with their respective owners. Any such copyrighted material is used exclusively for educational purposes and will be removed at first notice. All other text copyright Irmantas P.

Showing posts with label The Gasworks Gang. Show all posts
Showing posts with label The Gasworks Gang. Show all posts

Thursday, February 7, 2019


After my previous post about the weekly output of Leo Baxendale I thought it would be fun to check how many pages other humour comics artists were producing in the space of one week. I picked a random week of 1974 (March 30th) and pulled all IPC comics with that date – COR!!, Whoopee!, Whizzer and Chips, Shiver & Shake and Valiant. I was disappointed to discover that Buster didn’t come out that week, probably because of a strike. I looked for pages by Mike Lacey, Brian Walker, Frank McDiarmid, Terry Bave, Robert Nixon, Graham Allen and Reg Parlett. It turns out all were at least as productive as Leo Baxendale, while some of them proved to be real drawing machines and surpassed Leo quite considerably!

I will share my findings in the next few blogposts. I’ll start with Frank McDiarmid. He only managed 3 pages that week – a page of Lunchin’ Vulture in Whoopee! and two beautiful pages of The Gasworks Gang in COR!! I am sure he became a lot more productive later on when IPC put him in charge of Cheeky Weekly, but this series is a snapshot of the state of affairs in March 1974. Come back soon to see Brian Walker’s weekly output!

 Images are © Rebellion Publishing IP Ltd

Click on the POWER PACK banner in the right-hand column and get your copy of the POWER PACK OF KEN REID - the deluxe two-volume set of Ken’s strips in WHAM!, SMASH! and POW! comics of the ‘60s.

Monday, October 8, 2012


COR!! Comic Annual 1984, £1.95, 112 pages

Contents: Jack Pott (2 episodes illustrated and signed by Jim Crocker), Smartie Artie (2 episodes), Ivor Lott and Tony Broke (3 episodes signed by Crocker), Night Mare (2 reprints from old COR!! weeklies), Tomboy (2 reprints), Terry’s Tube Travels (3 episodes illustrated by Cliff Brown, one signed), Gus Gags (2 instalments), Football Madd (2 episodes), Jelly Baby (2 episodes), Young MacDonald and His Farm (2 episodes by Ron Turner), Benny Bendo, Teacher’s Pet (3 episodes), Percy Grower and his Fantastic Fertiliser, Tease Break (4 instalments), Chalky (2 episodes), Wilfred the World’s Worst Wizard (2 episodes), Whacky (2 episodes), Jasper the Grasper (new by Les Barton), Cheery Chuckles,  Spotter, Donovan’s Dad (2 old Les Barton episodes),  The Gasworks Gang (new set signed by Frank McDiarmid), Hire A Horror, Val’s Vanishing Cream, Fiends and Neighbours (new story illustrated by Les Barton).

As always, the annual was a combination of reprints and new material. In the introduction to the COR!! Specials and Annuals chapter of this blog I mentioned that in reprints the panels were usually cut up and rearranged so that original one-pagers from the weeklies became two-pagers in holiday specials and annuals. This meant that some panels had to be tampered with and extended. Sometimes this involved a small effort on behalf of IPC's staff artists: for example, only the last panel had to be ‘augmented’ in this Tomboy set that originally appeared in COR!! issue dated 12th January, 1974 and was reprinted in the 1984 Annual:

On other occasions more work was required, often resulting in awkward panelling and general layout, as can be seen by comparing the original set of Donovan’s Dad from COR!! dated 23rd December, 1972 and the reprint in the 1984 Annual:

The Annual had quite a large proportion of new material, as indicated by the number of strips marked in red in the contents summary above (I will repeat myself by saying that red means that the strips were either one-offs or their appearances were limited to COR!! Specials and Annuals and they will receive their own blogposts later on).

There was only one one-off strip in this annual and it was Terry’s Tube Travels. 3 episodes of it were illustrated by Cliff Brown who also drew Timothy Tester in Whizzer and Chips for quite a long time. The tale was about Terry and the telescope that he received as a gift from his Grandad who owned it as a lad. Whenever Terry looked through the telescope, he got transported to the place that he looked at (be it Mars, ant-heap or Easter Island):

In an earlier post I labelled Percy Grower and his Fantastic Fertiliser as an one-off. Well I was wrong because it made its second appearance in this Annual. The artist’s style is so distinctive that when I first looked I automatically assumed it was yet another episode of Benny Bendo. So, it is now official that Percy Grower and his Fantastic Fertiliser was not an one-off and appeared in two COR!! annuals.

The Annual contains new sets of two of my favourite strips in COR!! specials and annuals – The Gasworks Gang by Frank McDiarmid and Jasper the Grasper by Les Barton, both shown below in full. I particularly like the latter.

The episode of Fiends and Neighbours came with an original masthead. Here is the opening page:

Thursday, October 4, 2012


COR!! Holiday Special 1983, 50 p., 64 pages

Contents: Ivor Lott and Tony Broke (3 new episodes illustrated and signed by Crocker), Val’s Vanishing Cream (3 Mike Lacey reprints), Night Mare (3 reprints from old COR!! weeklies), Tease Break (2 instalments), Football Madd (3 reprints from old COR!! weeklies), Benny Bendo, Gus-On Holiday gags, Tomboy (2 reprints + one new in full colour), Yong MacDonald and his Farm (illustrated by Ron Turner), Donovan’s Dad (two new episodes by Terry Bave in full colour + one more in b/w), Chalky (reprint of an old episode from a COR!! weekly), Teacher’s Pet (2 reprints), Jasper the Grasper (a new story by Les Barton), Whacky (Mike Lacey reprint), Jelly Baby (3 reprints), Percy Puffer (reprint), Gus-Back Home gags, Hire A Horror (in colour), The Gasworks Gang (a new 4-pager by Frank McDiarmid + 1 reprint from an old COR!! weekly), Jeannie’s Genie (reprint), The Slimms (reprint), Jack Pott, Fiends and Neighbours (a new 3-pager), Gus, Gus Gags, Tell-Tale Tess (reprint).

This was the last COR!! Holiday Special. It was quite remarkable that the Specials lasted so long after the paper folded in 1974.

I may be imagining things, but I get an impression that whoever was responsible for compiling this last edition, he thought it appropriate to include a large number of old reprints of the various strips from the weeklies, some of which had been out of print for more than a decade since their original appearance in COR!!: the long forgotten original episodes of Tell-Tale Tess, Jeannie’s Genie and Percy Puffer from the old weeklies appeared alongside with strips that were reprinted on a regular basis.

That said, the Special was another successful combination of reprints and some high-quality new material: Terry Bave drew a couple of new sets of Donovan’s Dad, Crocker contributed three brand new sets of Ivor Lott and Tony Broke, Ron Turner illustrated another nice episode of Young MacDonald and Frank MacDiarmid drew and signed a new set of the Gasworks Gang’s antics:

Les Barton contributed three pages of Jasper the Grasper’s miserly adventures:

The episode of Fiends and Neighbours was by a new artist whose name is unknown to me:

And with this I’ll close the last chapter of COR!! Holiday Specials. You can go through the whole COR!! specials sequence by clicking here or by choosing the COR!! Holiday Specials label in the column on the right.

Thursday, April 5, 2012


The Gasworks Gang was a traditional British classroom comedy strip. The Gang was six school-boys: Boss, Tub, Dozy, Nosey, Brains and Tich, who made their Teacher’s life a misery. The Teach (sometimes referred to as ‘Sir’ by the Gang) was a dangerous-looking bloke who lived with his Mum. Other recurring characters were Janitor, Headmaster and Teach’s Mum. The Teacher got the upper hand occasionally, but the Gang usually prevailed.

The Gasworks Gang from COR!! dated 27th February 1971 (No. 39)

Illustrated by Frank McDiarmid, the strip occupied two full pages in black and white from the first to the very last issue of COR!! The two pages usually told a complete story every week but there were also three “serials”. The first one began in the issue dated 29th July, 1972 (No. 113), coinciding with the point when the strip was moved from its usual slot on pages 4 and 5 to the back of the paper. This is also the time when the artist began drawing a new logo for each weekly episode (with a few exceptions).

The first serial was entitled “All at Sea” and told a summer holiday story about how the Gasworks Gang accidentally sent Teach on an ocean-going cruise in the belly of a whale and set off to save him. Their voyage took them to the Arctic Circle, then they found themselves stranded on a desert island, got rescued by a submarine that took them to an exotic coast where they fell into the hands of cannibals. Cortown Zoo finally sent an airplane and arranged their free passage back in return for a crocodile, just in time for the start of school. The serial ran in 5 issues from 29th July, 1972 until 26th August, 1972 (Nos. 113 – 117).

The Gasworks Gang on an educational tour of Britain
in COR!! dated 4th November, 1972 (No. 127)

In their second “epic tale” the Gasworks Gang cheated in a School Authorities Competition and won the First Prize of an educational tour of Britain. The tour lasted 16 weeks (from 30th September, 1972 until 13th January, 1973 (Nos. 122 – 137)). The Gasworks Gang and Teach visited the Tower of London, Stonehenge, the Lake District, the White Cliffs of Dover, Scotland and Loch Ness, an oil rig in Scotland, Hadrian’s Wall, Stoke and its famous potteries, Wales and finally Cambridge before making it safely back to Cortown. Christmas and New Year episodes were also incorporated into the story which was given a proper ending in the issue of 13th January, 1973 (No. 137) when President of the Education Committee came to have a few words with the Gang for cheating to get on the tour.

The Gasworks Gang tour the Common Market countries:
French vinyards in COR!! 18th August 1973 (No. 168)

During their visit in Germany the Gang go to a china factory
and make a life-size china model of Teach. They try
firing it on a bonfire with a volume of Mein Kampf
tossed on top of it. A question here: is burning books
not a Nazi thing to do?
(from COR!! dated 15h Sept., 1973 (No. 172))

The last serial began in the issue dated 4th August, 1973 (No. 166): British kids were worried that school holidays were coming and instead of being locked up in school the Gang would be on the loose all day. Police officer realized the menace and decided that the Gang should be deported. Kids started collection right away to fund the deportation and several days later the police officer presented Teach with a sack of lolly and a mini-bus so that he could take the Gang on a tour of the Common Market countries for their holidays. That’s how the Gasworks Gang’s tour of Europe began. It lasted 10 weeks and included antics in France, Belgium, Holland, Denmark, Germany, Italy and Ireland. The tour ended in issue 6th October, 1973 (No. 175) when the Gasworks Gang returned to the UK.

Mail in the Postbag section suggests that readers had different opinions about the strip – some thought it was boring while some wrote in to tell how much they liked it. My vote would have been very much with the yeas. I surely don’t find it boring and Frank McDiarmid’s excellent artwork really makes the strip shine. For me it is easily one of the best series in COR!! I would very much like to get hold of an original set of Gasworks Gang art for my collection :)

Trivia stuff: the episode in the issue of 12th June, 1971 (No. 54) was illustrated by Les Barton. The Gasworks Gang made two COR!! front page appearances on 8th September, 1973 and  23rd March, 1974 (Nos. 171 and 199). Towards the very end of the run the strip was in three-colours on centre pages. Issue of 30th March, 1974 (No. 200) had a nice ‘full colour’ episode. I find that particular episode interesting in a number of ways: I think that the concept of characters demanding full-colour treatment and doing something about it is quite clever, I also like the way the idea is presented; the episode has a couple of small fun details, like the guest-appearance of Tomboy – a character from another COR!! strip (episodic guest appearances were rather common in COR!! by the way), and showing the Editor’s face. If you take a close look you’ll notice that it’s actually a mask because Ed’s real face was supposedly too horrible to be uncovered. Finally, you can see Frank McDiarmid’s self-portrait in two panels at the bottom of the second page.

The only "colour" episode in COR!! dated 30th March, 1974 (No. 200)

The Gasworks Gang bid their
farewells in the last issue of COR!!

Here are details about appearances of The Gasworks Gang outside of COR!! weeklies. As this one my favourite strips and one of the highlights in COR!!, there is a good chance to find examples of the artwork in my blogposts dedicated to the particular Holiday Specials and Annuals.

1971 COR!! Holiday Special – 1 episode by Les Barton
1972 COR!! Comic Annual – 1 episode by Frank McDiarmid and 1 by Les Barton
1972 COR!! Holiday Special – 1 episode by Frank McDiarmid
1973 COR!! Comic Annual – 2 episodes by Frank McDiarmid
1973 COR!! Holiday Special – 1 episode by Frank McDiarmid
1974 COR!! Comic Annual – 2 episodes by Frank McDiarmid
1974 COR!! Holiday Special – 1 episode by Frank McDiarmid
1975 COR!! Comic Annual – 1 episode by Frank McDiarmid
1975 COR!! Holiday Special – first one ever signed by Frank McDiarmid
1976 COR!! Comic Annual – 3 episodes (two original and one reprint)
1976 COR!! Holiday Special – 1 reprint + 1 new episode by Frank McDiarmid
1977 COR!! Comic Annual – 2 new episodes by Frank McDiarmid
1977 COR!! Holiday Special – 1 new episode by Les Barton + 2 reprints
1978 COR!! Comic Annual – 1 new episode by Frank McDiarmid, signed
1978 COR!! Holiday Special – so far I haven’t been able to get hold of a copy and check for myself but this review confirms that Gasworks Gang was included in the 1978 Special. I will add details when I can.  
1979 COR!! Comic Annual – 4 episodes, all reprints
1979 COR!! Holiday Special – 3 reprints, one in full colour
1980 COR!! Comic Annual – 2 reprints
1980 COR!! Holiday Special – 3 reprints
1981 COR!! Comic Annual – 4 reprints
1981 COR!! Holiday Special – 2 reprints
1982 COR!! Comic Annual – 3 reprints + 1 new Frank McDiarmid signed
1982 COR!! Holiday Special – 1 new episode by Frank McDiarmid
1983 COR!! Comic Annual – 4 reprints
1983 COR!! Holiday Special – a new 4-pager by Frank McDiarmid + 1 reprint
1984 COR!! Comic Annual – new episode signed by Frank McDiarmid
1985 COR!! Comic Annual – 4 reprints
1986 COR!! Comic Annual – 2 new episodes signed by Frank McDiarmid